[HAMMOND, La] – Local mother returns to college after 12 years, and deals with the struggles of timing throughout life.
Mother of two, wife, employee and now student Michelle Marques, at the age of 41, can now call herself a college student. After two attempts at obtaining her degree, Marques decided the fall 2017 semester was the right time to immerse herself in the college experience and attend Southeastern Louisiana University located in Hammond.
Marques twice planned to attend college and both times she was unable to complete her schooling. “The first time I attended was after I had my first child, I tried to attend college and work, but found it was too much.” This led to her having to drop out of Elaine P. Nunez Community college at the half way mark.
“Ten years later, I gave birth to my second child and I was financially stable to cut back on work and attend Elaine P. Nunez in Chalmette again for a pre-pharmacy degree,” Marques said. However, timing again became a problem. Two weeks into the new semester, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and because of the hurricane she was unable to complete school again and up root her life. This resulted in Marques placing her education on hold again.
Marques is originally from Chalmette but because of Hurricane Katrina, Marques and her family moved to Hammond. Marques said Hammond is the place her children know as home. This city is where her children went to school, participated in activities and her children’s friends live here.
Marques is determined to get her diploma and she promised her son as he grew up, that she would go to college when he was still attending, and that they would go together and she would be able to fulfill her dream of graduating.
She said her son has always been pushing her to go back through the years, but it never seemed to be the right time for the family.
Marques’ son, Gregg Landry Jr. and his girlfriend helped Marques return to school by learning what she needed for enrollment at Southeastern. Marques said the two of them did all the leg work to get her into Southeastern. Landry and his girlfriend went to the controller’s office to see what Marques needed for enrollment. Landry and his girlfriend also brought home all the paperwork for Marques to fill out and return.
She said, “They guided me to where I am today, a student at S.L.U.” Southeastern was the best college choice for her because the campus is down the street from her house. Besides the fact it was a prime location Southeastern had the added bonus of offering the curriculum she was looking for, which is Health Systems.
Landry said, “I feel great that my mother is continuing her education.” Through his excitement for his mother continuing her education he tries to help her out with school and campus itineraries as much as possible. Such as, which teachers she should to take for certain subjects and how to navigate Southeastern’s websites.
Landry took it a step further by helping his mother navigate Southeastern’s Moodle website. “He gave me a Moodle 101 crash course” said Marques. As the semester progresses he does try to help her with her time management since her classes are online. She is enrolled in a total of nine credit hours, which is three online classes, consisting of a Communication course, Psychology and English.
Since both Landry and his girlfriend are still enrolled at Southeastern, they are Marques’ go to people and they check on her from time to time to make sure she is getting her homework done, and not falling behind in her classes.
Marques’ job has also worked with her throughout the process of going back to school with letting her take time off when needed for enrollment purposes and mandatory class meetings.
Between work and school the only big change in her daily life has been learning how to manage her time.
Marques said juggling schoolwork and her home life is the most difficult especially in the evenings. This is because her youngest child, Paris, needs help with her homework at night and she also participates in extracurricular activities, which sometimes keeps Marques busy too.
Marques said, “Trying to balance the two is difficult, I always put my child’s schooling ahead of mine, which results in late nights for me.”
Marques attributes where she is now and how she got there to her whole family. “I have my whole family as my cheerleaders. My husband is very supportive and he knows this is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Even with some timing issues Marques is still excited about her first semester back at college and her family sees how much of a good experience this will be for her in the end. She not only wants this degree for herself but also for her family.
Her husband of 12 years, Chad Marques, supports her decision to continue her education and he is proud of her achievements in school. He feels a degree will help her further down the line in the work force. Chad Marques said, “She knows the business, and her getting to the top could be just a degree away.”
Chad and Michelle knew she would return to college to receive her degree since 2005, and that now is her chance to do so. He said, “If her schooling ends up affecting me I’m fine with it,” because he knows this is something she has wanted to do for herself for a while now.
“School keeps her days long, between working all day and coming home to do school work,” Marques said about his wife’s routine.
Since the beginning of the fall semester, Chad notices his wife is focusing on learning how to perfect her skills in each class and how she absorbs as much information she can.
He said, “She is truly focused and dedicated. I know she’ll walk across the stage to receive her diploma.”